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January 01, 2009


Corey Wilde

No. No, I don't want to hear this.

Jean-Marc Laherrère

The sadest way to begin the year.

Charles Ardai

Ah, jesus. We've lost so many, but this one really, really hurts. He was a phenomenal talent and a phenomenal mensch and I miss him like you wouldn't believe.

Mike Berry

He made it all look so easy.

I'm sorry the new year has to start this way.

Nathan Cain

I should have stayed off the Internet tonight. This just ruined my evening.

Joe Crim

This news will sadden - and surprise - all who love this great man and his prodigious talents. A tremendous loss.

tom schreck

The Hot Rock was the first book I remember reading and loving...a favorite, a role model, a joy...


Clayton Moore

Boy, this is a tough one. I met him about five years ago, and interviewed him in 2007. The man had the best answer to my question about what would happen if Parker and Dortmunder met in a bar.

"Parker and Dortmunder would take each other’s measure very quickly," he said, "…and Dortmunder would leave the room. Parker wouldn’t bother to leave the room."

And here's an even more appropriate quote that never made it into print.

"I’ve never been only a mystery writer. I saw a quote from Stravinsky that was in an advertisement in the Times – he said, 'I don’t write modern music. I write good music.'I think I’m a writer first. A lot of it just happens to be in the mystery field."

I'll write something longer when I can get my thoughts together, but I echo your sentiments, Sarah.

Nancy Damon

Donald Westlake was a featured speaker at the Virginia Festival of the Book in 2003. He was a wonderful person, generous with his time, humorous, gentlemanly, willing to participate in a discussion with younger crime writers, without pulling rank--just a marvelous person. His books were great fun and creative. What pleasure he gave to so many people!

Nancy Damon
Program Director, Virginia Festival of the Book
Virginia Foundation for the Humanities
Charlottesville, Virginia

Robert Gregory Browne

Donald Westlake was the reason I started writing. I discovered his work at age thirteen, when I read a serialized version of his novel SOMEBODY OWES ME MONEY in, of all places, Playboy magazine. I can't remember who the centerfold was that month, but I certainly remember that story and how it grabbed me.

I immediately went to the library and found all the Westlake books I could find, then soon discovered the world of Parker.

The last time I was in New York I had hoped to arrange a lunch with Westlake, to thank him for his inspiration and for teaching me to write, but for various reasons the invitation was never extended (and I have no idea if it would have been accepted), so it never happened. Now, more than ever, I wish it had.

I never knew the man personally, but this is a huge loss for me.

Timothy Hallinan

It's hard to think of another writer who gave me so much pure pleasure. I've got at least fifteen of his books, and that's after lending many and giving some away. But what a way to go -- out in a flash on his way to a New Year's party. There's some mercy in that.


What a crappy way to start the year. Not only was Donald a fantastic writer, but he was a great father, husband, and friend to many. He and his wife Abby are great friends of my parents - they live a couple of miles away from each other in Gallatin, NY. We just celebrated Christmas with him last week at my folks' house, and then my husband and I stayed in their home in the East Village in NYC just a few days ago while they were in Mexico. I had to call my parents tonight and tell them - they hadn't yet heard the news. I am deeply, deeply saddened by this - there will never be another one like Donald Westlake. My family, as well as countless others, will miss him terribly.


I just can't believe he's really gone. The first book of his I read was "Humans," because the review in the times intrigued me. Since then, I've made collecting his books a near obsession of mine. I never met him, but I feel like an old friend has gone away. I think I just expected him to keep writing books forever.

Levi Stahl

Oh, this is so sad. Obviously I knew he wasn't a young man, but the vitality of his writing somehow fooled me into assuming that this day was long away. I never met him, but in the course of working on the reissues of his books this past year I got to be involved in e-mail threads with him, and he was unfailingly friendly, warm, thoughtful, and funny.


It's a very, very sad news. Two month ago he was on tour in germany and his german publisher, Zsolnay, put an Interview with Mr. Westlake on YouTube. You could find it under http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZUtFg7vIJ4
In mourning


The funniest. The cleverest. The sharpest. The toughest. The most industrious. The best.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Ayo Onatade

This is really not what I want to hear so early in the New Year! This is such a bummer. No more Dortmunder no more Parker. This is a sad day.

Dana King

This truly is sad news. I have not read as much Westlake as I would have liked, but, given the caliber of his books, I suspect no one has.

As good as the Dortmunder and Parker books are, I was lucky enough to stumble onto a collection of short stories titled LEVINE about a year ago, stories of a middle-aged New York cop with heart trouble. Beautiful constructed mysteries, they are also poignant without becoming maudlin. Highly recommended.

rosemary harris

I was lucky enough to meet Donald Westlake a few times because he very generously lent his name to some of the Meet the Author charity dinners held by the Goddard Riverside Settlement House on NY's upper west side. It was always a treat.

Jim Treacher

I can't believe Dirty Money is the final Parker novel. He hadn't missed a step. He wrote rings around guys 1/3rd his age. Goddammit.


i read "Don't Ask" 8 times almost in a row and i still couldn't quit finding it amazing. i'm shocked and yes i cried. what will dortmunder,may,andy, tiny and stan do now?
he entertained me in times that were beyond entertainment,what i received from him is priceless...

Kent Gibbons

Collectively he's provided me with months (probably) of amazed reading pleasure. I thought I'd read everything with all pseudonyms but now in reading the obits I realized there are months, years more to read. That's some solace. I was thrilled to see him in person at the Edgar Awards a couple of years ago, and was even more thrilled several years earlier when I mailed him a clipping from the paper that was akin to a plot device he'd used -- something about a sting that involved sending warrant skippers a letter telling them they'd won the lottery. I received a typed return letter that I treasure. Bon voyage Donald!


Very sad.

I've only recently gotten around to reading Westlake and am very pleased to know that there are dozens of books left for me to read (if I can get my hands on them). I'm up to the eighth Parker novel and recently finished "The Ax" and "Kahawa". (Kahawa reminded me of when I read "Lonesome Dove" - I so wanted the adventure to continue. Why it was never made into a movie, I'll never know. Of course, Hollywood would probably add all sorts of explosions and just ruin it.)


Donald Westlake was one of my heroes of mystery fiction. I was deeply impressed by his Mitch Tobin novels, and I loved his Parker series. Reading the Parker novels was like „a faint cold fear thrilling through my veins" (William Shakespeare). Hard to imagine that there will be no more Parker novels.


Donald Westlake.

When this happens, you can't help feeling that a part of your existence has been cut off. The characters are still there, but you know that there won't be any more, and somehow they have died too. And you don't really know the author, but you do.

One of my favorites, he and his buddies Lawrence Block and Bill Pronzini have provided me with tons of fun and wonderfully enlightening entertainment down the years.

I'll be moseying down to the OJ Bar and Grill sometime this evening.

Looks like a half-bottle of Amsterdam Liquor Store "Our Own Brand" Bourbon night

Don't wait up.

Hey there Rollo....

Richard S. Wheeler

The Washington Post finally produced an obituary of sorts(January 4).

Giovanni Zucca

No. No, I don't want to hear this. (Corey Wilde)
The sadest way to begin the year. (JM Laherrère)
Donald Westlake was one of my heroes of mystery fiction. (Claus)
No more Dortmunder no more Parker. This is a sad day. (Ayo Onatade)
No need to add other words, no way to show my tears. I'll start today to reread his novels, the best way to keep him alive in my (our) hearts.


It's a really really really bad news. I'll miss Dortmunder, Kelp, Tiny and friends. So long Donald, you will be able to make laugh God, Angels and the devil too...

Account Deleted

Thank you for this wonderful collection of links. My tribute and annotated bibliography is here: http://thebadplus.typepad.com/dothemath/2009/01/donald-e-westlake-1933-2008.html

karen marie

condolences and well wishes to mr. westlake's wife, family and friends.

i am grateful for the gifts he leaves behind.


"What's the Worst That Could Happen?"


Levi Stahl

Wow, Ethan, thank you for that detailed post on Westlake's work. Just the guide I need for a dive into the non-series stuff; that's a fine tribute. And thanks, Sarah, for pulling all these links together.

Dick Lochte

Quite a shock about Don. He was absolutely the best. For him to be that prolific and that wonderful a writer seemed almost unfair. But it didn't end there. He was charming, a great raconteur and, in short, a gent. In the lunches we had over the years, I never heard him say a bad word about anybody who hadn't poached one of his plots or mucked up a movie adaptation of one of his books. He was one of a kind.


What a loss for all of us. Mr. Westlake was a fantastically talented writer, and a real observer of the human condition. His novels gave us such joy. Thank you, Mr. Westlake. May you be at one with God.

Wallace Stroby

A few days late and a dollar short, unfortunately, but I've finally posted my own Westlake tribute at http://www.wallacestrobycom.blogspot.com. And I agree, the LEVINE stories are little gems, especially that poignant final one.



Ian MacDonald, Airdrie, Scotland

I only found out about Mr Westlake's death this week when I was cataloguing his books to identify those I had not yet read. Since my first experience of his works (Adios Scherezade in 1971) through "Help, I am being Held Prisoner" (the funniest book I have ever read) to "Drowned Hopes" that I read a couple of months ago, I had always eagerly anticipated his next book, whether it be Parker, Dortmunder or a stand-alone novel. They were all a delight to read, and the only problem I might have is sourcing some of the older books in Scotland. Never mind, there is always good old Amazon and it may also be a good reason to have a holiday in the States on my retirement in a few years.


One thing I can say is that we lost one great author of all time, RIP Donald Westlake.

coach handbags

Good is good and bad is bad
You don't know which one you had
She put your books out on the sidewalk
Now they're blowing 'round

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